William Collins recently reviewed Perspectives in Male Psychology: An Introduction, here. Our thanks to Sue Parker Hall, a speaker at ICMI20, for her review:
As a psychotherapist, who has developed theoretical models and a therapeutic methodology for addressing anger and rage issues as a critique of, and remedy for, the harms inflicted on many men by domestic abuse programmes based on the USA Duluth model, I warmly welcome this book.
The Duluth model, in my opinion, is ineffective at best and, at worst does more harm than good in terms of subjecting male participants to a damaging radical feminist negative construction of masculinity; further, interventions based on the Duluth model are unjust because firstly, they ignore how the majority of domestic abuse is co-created and secondly, they are are ineffectual because they intervene at too superficial a level and are blind to men’s trauma. This important issue, and many more besides, are addressed in some depth in this book.
The authors bravely transgress the taboo found within all academic disciplines that are under the influence of critical theory, which functions to obscure sex differences and limit the freedom to speak about them; a situation that has to date, silenced all but the bravest of souls.
Presented here is a holistic approach to masculinity, incorporating biology, evolution and humanistic philosophy; it puts hairs on the chest of, and muscles on the bones of, the thin masculinity of Men’s Studies – a purely social construct, preoccupied with identity politics. Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the authors elegantly integrate the cultural process of socialisation with the evolutionary and biological elements of masculinity.
Refreshingly, the reader is introduced to a male friendly, empathic, compassionate and crucially, embodied understanding of masculinity, crystalised in a range of positive male archetypes that provide a potent antidote to the radical feminist concept of ‘toxic masculinity’; very importantly, childhood trauma, life event trauma and social deprivation are highlighted as contributors to negative male behaviour.
New psychological concepts emerge from the authors’ research and analysis, providing an enriched language with which to more deeply explore, understand, and work therapeutically with, the phenomenon of masculinity. Further, the content of this book construes men and male psychology as more complex; worthy of a multi-dimensional approach that looks beyond the individual. It acknowledges a wide range of variables, from a wide range of disciplines and domains, that operate to structure men’s characteristics and behaviour. This construct provides a remedy to the reductionism of what I would call a ‘nurture-centric’ approach, thereby indicating a more diverse set of, not only therapy interventions, but social interventions as well.
The book’s discussion and research are of a high quality and presented in a very accessible way, exemplified by the ‘Spotlight’ features in each chapter, which I think of as concentrated ‘shots’ of knowledge, that address particular male psychology concerns.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book which introduces a broad range of highly relevant men’s psychological and social issues and skilfully addresses, with the potential to repair, the bias that has shaped our deficit model of masculinity and caused us to grievously misunderstand men.
I have a particular affection for ‘traditional masculinity’ which I link to biological and evolutionary influences; it’s my hope that people who read this book will experience an increased respect for traditional masculinity instead of rejecting and pathologizing it; and that academics and members of the helping professions will firstly, stop criticising men, and secondly stop trying to ‘help’ them by feminising them; and lastly, I hope that the high quality of Liddon & Barry’s work here will encourage more, much needed funding for further research into men’s psychological issues that will, in turn, lead to increased funding for their alleviation.
This publication is invaluable to anyone interested in developing a science-based, vs an ideologically based understanding of male psychology; it’s an ethical and practical ‘must-read’ ‘101’ for all counselling and psychotherapy practitioners and trainees and is a first-class introductory reader to the excellent Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology co-edited by Barry, the co-author of this book.
After reading the manuscript of this excellent book I felt affirmed in many ways in my practice as a psychotherapist as well as better informed and more confident in my work with men, but I was left with one haunting question that brought tears to my eyes; I wondered, ‘what would a biological, evolutionary, humanistic approach to femininity look like?’
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